Saturday, December 25, 2010

In Which Christmas is... Postponed

My husband was sick last week, and my son and I are both sick this week. I've determined that it's one of the hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola or the Plague. (Yes, I'm one of the people that subscribe to the theory that the Black Death was a hemorrhagic fever.) Most likely, it's Ebola mixed with the common cold. ("Which never happened, because that would be wrong." Bonus points to the person that can name the TV show that quote is from.)

Given that fact, my extended family has decided to postpone Christmas until next week, when we'll hopefully be feeling better.

So, to keep a little Christmas spirit in my heart last night, I watched "Next of Kin", a movie about traditional family values. (hehehe) It has Liam Neeson in it, so it can't be all bad! If you've never seen it, it's about two hillbilly brothers (one of whom is now a cop in Chicago) who set out to avenge the mob killing of their brother. I actually love this movie for its use of... I can't think of the word right now (see the Ebola paragraph above), but it has these great little authentic feeling anthropological moments in it.

When the (now) city brother (Patrick Swayze) and his wife (Helen Hunt) take the body of his younger brother back to the hills, he sees his family waiting at the end of the train station. He asks her to wait for him, because "they don't take easily to strangers". "But I'm your wife!" she protests. "No honey, not you. Me." In those few words, he lets her know that he's been away long enough that he is now a stranger to these people.

When he walks to the end of the platform, he greets each person by name and relation. Uncle Billy, Cousin Henry, etc. In that moment, he establishes that he's still one of them. He remembers their names, and how he is related to each of them. In a culture that (in the movie, anyway) that values family above everything else, this is an important scene.

Later, during the wake, the women are in the kitchen doing food stuff. The city wife is feeling out of place and after knocking a bunch of silverware to the floor (and all the other women just silently watch her), she is about to leave. The country brother (Liam Neeson) walks in and in two steps, connects her to the family. First, he gives her his cup of coffee to refill. Second, he thanks her for being kind to his dead brother and taking care of him while he was in the city. After that, the other women are more accepting of her.

These two scenes really make the movie for me. There are a couple of other scenes about the culture clashes between the hill people and the city people, but these are my favorites because they are subtle and there is no exposition about it. It's the kind of thing that I want to do in my writing. It's the kind of thing that I try to use my anthropological training in, so it wasn't a total waste. Writing and watching Next of Kin :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

In Which Winter Solstice News Is Shared

Yay! Just in time for the new year (which for me, is tomorrow :)) Blogger has provided mobile templates for blog posts! If people aren't looking at your blog with smart phones yet, they soon will be. I'm so glad that now the content will be served up in a mobile friendly fashion. It was pretty easy to turn on. If you haven't turned it on yet, you might want to log into your dashboard and take a peek.

In other news, tonight there is a lunar eclipse. It's the first time there has been a lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice since the 1600s. However, here in rain starved So Cal, we're finally getting rain. Which means the lunar eclipse probably won't be visible. Rats.

And, in keeping with the rain, we have our first roof leak. Sigh. I've contacted the HOA, but roofing repairs can't be done until the rain stops and the roof dries.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Over 100 Blogs

According to Google Reader, I'm currently following well over a hundred blogs. I read them all. Not everyone posts something new every day, so I'm not reading a hundred blogs a day, but still.

I'm thinking about breaking them down into two categories. The ones I follow on Google Reader. I follow and read, but for one reason or another I don't comment. The ones listed on my blog, which I read and make the odd comment or two.

We'll see how it works. I'll probably go back to listing all 120 blogs in that column on the right in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Washed My Hair Today

I washed my hair today. Normally that would not be a blog worthy statement. In order to understand why it's blog worthy, I have get into the way back machine and go back to the early 1980's. I was in high school, I permed my hair, and a few months after it had faded away/grown out, my dad said it was the worst mistake I'd made in my life. (He then clarified, saying that it wasn't the worst and if it were the worst mistake I made in my life, I'd be doing ok.)

However, none of the kids in high school teased me about my hair (and they would have, trust me). Plus, my dad was a cop, not a member of the fashion police. And that was a long time ago. Things have changed. I know more about hair now than I did then. I'll be 47 in a few days, so I figured, "What do dads know, anyway?" and got my hair permed yesterday.

It turns out dads know quite a lot. Still probably not the worst mistake I've ever made in my life, but certainly not the best choice I've made either. You've undoubtedly seen pictures of Little Orphan Annie (the comic strip, not the actresses). I only wish I looked that good. So, taking a lesson from Legally Blond (where I get much of my fashion and beauty advice) I decided to wash my hair before the allotted 48 hours.

I'm beginning to think that Legally Blond may not have been an entirely accurate movie. Because the perm is still in here, in all it's Bride of Frankenstein glory. I'm now about to research "bad perm fixes" on Google. If anything works, I'll let you know.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Truth in Fiction (ranty rant)

I recently read Tanya Huff''s "The Enchantment Emporium", which I loved. I wanted to post a review about it, but every review I tried to write it my mind included this line "I think you would enjoy the story more, or at least get more out of it, if you are Wiccan, or Pagan, or at least familiar with mythologies of the Celtic Horned God." And then I realized I couldn't say that, because there is a lot of incest in this book. (The rulers of the family want to keep the power in the family, and the women of the family are attracted to men with power, so...) I was afraid that people might read "The Enchantment Emporium" and think that it was a representation of Witches or Wiccans. And it's not. But it is a very good book, with lots of good world building and doesn't suffer from over exposition :)

Anyway, so that got me to thinking how many accurate representations of Witches and/or Wiccans I've read in fiction. Keep in mind that we're talking about a religion where if 7 or more are in a group, an anthropologist shows up, and if you have more than 40 in a single place, a reporter shows up. So we're a fairly well documented group.

Two. I could think of two books. In fantasy, it would by "Wyrd Sisters" by Terry Pratchett, and in mysteries it's the Bast series by Rosemary Edghill. Now, keep in mind I haven't read everything out there, that's still a very small list.

Which leads me to wonder, if so many writers can't get Witches right, how in the world are they going to get Amish or Dine (Navajo) right? Because I really get my panties in a bunch when I hear that "Amish Romance" is the new hot genre. Research, people, research. No, watching "Witness" ten times doesn't count as Amish research. This is one time when imagination is not enough.

Anyway, I totally loved Tanya Huff's book.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Favorite Query Letter Ever

I've been reading lots of query letters over the past couple of years (no, not just my own!) and this one is my favorite. Right up to and including the author's bio.

There have been lots of letters that made me want to read the book, and there have been a couple where I bought the book based on the query letter. ("Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings" just today, for example.)

But the query letter for A Comedy of Terrors was wonderful. I still remember it three months later. When I'm trying to write a query letter, it's this one I think of. This one I judge my query letter on. No, I don't want to do the same thing, but I want to figure out why I love it (probably voice) and do that in my query letter. So when I'm saying "Not right yet", it's because of the query letter for A Comedy of Terrors. (And boy I hope this book gets published, because I really, really want to read it!)

Jane Yellowrock and Mercy Thompson

One of my favorite characters is Mercy Thompson. If you haven't read the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs, I highly recommend them. Mercy is strong, independent, loyal, and has trouble asking for help.

I read the first two Jane Yellowrock books this week (by Faith Hunter) and I'm quickly adding Jane to my "favorite characters" list. Jane is strong, independent, loyal and has trouble asking for help. Yeah, I see a trend here, too :) (And yes, I recommend these books, too.)

Mercy and Jane are alike in a number of ways. They're both:
Native American (they may both be Cherokee, I just can't remember which type of Native American Mercy is)
Shapeshifters (that they call 'skin walkers' while acknowledging the term is actually Navajo/Hopi and that a skin walker is evil, while they are not.)
Called upon to use their special abilities in killing evil vampires (as opposed to good vampires)
Trying to decide (early on, this doesn't go on forever) which of two guys they actually want to be with
Protective of children

Given the similarities, these are still very different characters in very different worlds. So, the next time you hear about a book that you think is too much like yours and now you'll never get published, think of Mercy and Jane. Your take on the story will be very different from someone else's. Thank goodness :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Query Letter Time!

Ok, here's a new version of my (ongoing) attempts to write a query letter for Troll Wife. I'm not there yet, but in writing this I discovered a little plot hole and was able to fix it. It tied up a loose thread that I didn't know was there. Yay for writing mock query letters!


It's hard being a young female troll. First off, unless you're really special, you haven't earned a name and everyone just calls you "Troll Wife". Second, it's hard to get work (except maybe as a bouncer) because, hey, you're a troll. Third, you don't have any friends because again, hey, troll.

So when Troll Wife gets accepted into the tooth fairy training program, she wants three things. A job, to make friends, and earn a name. She's not thinking about why tooth fairies collect teeth and she certainly isn't thinking about monsters.

But there is a monster. Oubliette is determined to kill any human that hasn't kept the terms of an ancient pact between the humans and the fae. And any child that has lost a tooth but hasn't received money for it yet, hasn't kept the pact.

As a tooth fairy, Troll Wife has friends, a job, and the tools to continue the long fight against Oubliette. As a troll, she has the ability to actually stop Oubliette. She must choose. Give up everything she is and continue the fight against Oubliette? Or give up everything she's ever wanted and stop Oubliette?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cutting and cutting some more

I've been sick since Wednesday. Not the flu, just an icky cold. So what should of, could of, would of been a four day weekend of writing has been mostly a four day weekend of whining, sneezing and sleeping. My husband did the grocery shopping for me, but today I had to do some banking.

While we were out, I figured I'd shave my head. My husband, wise man that he is, only said, "If that's what you want to do, I'll drive you over there". Once there, I backed off from totally shaving my head, and just had her take four inches off. (You've seen my pic, right? Now imagine that with four inches less hair.)

I can't decide if I like it or hate it. I hated my hair before, so even if I still hate it, now there is just less of it to hate :)

Finally! (not what you think)

Well, I'm finally done!

Sadly, not with this round of revisions (though I think I'm really close). Nope, I'm finally done importing Troll Wife into Scrivener and breaking it down into scenes. I have about 20,000 words that I've pulled out of my original draft to be relocated someplace else in this revision.

I'm breaking out the time line again. Obviously, when Oubliette hints that she is attacking faeish, that has to happen before Brux is attacked. But some things aren't so clear. They may end up getting cut from the final draft.

Which means that Troll Wife would be about 75,000 words. Not good. I guess I better find a way to stitch those scenes back in.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Scrivener Beta 1.3 is out

Just so you know, Scrivener for Windows Beta 1.3 came out this morning! You can find it here, but I believe you have to already be logged in to the forums in order to get there. (I'm sure all the Mac Scrivener users know that 2.0 came out a few days ago.)

Now there is an "About Scrivener" in the help menu, so you can see what version you're working with (very nice). It also fixes the disappearing indents problem and the lag problem. (I didn't notice the lag problem, which was related to how spell check was checking words while typing.) I love that it's fixed the disappearing indents problem. It wasn't a huge issue, but it bugged me.

They think they've also fixed the invisible text problem, but they're not sure, since they were never able to reproduce it. (This was a problem where the last part of what you had written seemed to disappear, even though it was really still there. You could go to "show invisible" and it would reappear, but it caused a few writerly heart attacks until that trick was discovered.

There are lots of other updates and changes listed in the link, but those struck me as the big ones. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

QR Codes

Since I've gotten my Droid, I've been happily clicking at QR codes. It's like magic. My camera sees it, and I get taken to a web page, or download a program, or whatever. After reading an article about how writers could be using QR codes by Sierra Godfrey, I'm totally going to be spending some time creating my own QR code.

For more information about QR codes, what they are, what you can do with them, and how to make one, please check out Sierra Godfrey's post "QR Codes for Writers".

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Today's Word Count

I made today's word count. Too bad about yesterday. Maybe I can make it up a little bit at a time. Now I'm off to bed.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNo post

Ok, I've decided to write/explore The Monster of Dewsberry Drink as my NaNoWriMo project. I'm not sure I'll win NaNo this year. I just don't have enough writing time in my schedule to be able to do almost 2,000 words a day. But I'm going to try!

(And yes, Scrivener is every bit as cool as I thought it was, even in the Windows Beta version that doesn't do everything yet.)

My husband has offered to buy me a copy of Scrivener for my birthday, so trying to win doesn't have that extra pressure on me :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Scrivener for Windows (and free trial for NaNoWriMo!)

OMG! I've heard about Scrivener for ages, and always had Mac envy for that alone, since Scrivener was Mac only. I've tried other software for novel writing, some free and some not, but deep in my heart I believed that nothing was as good as Scrivener. For a while, I contemplated getting a Mac, just so I could get Scrivener, but decided $2,000 was a little much for just one piece of software.

Now, courtesy of Lifehhacker, I discovered that Scrivener has a Windows version and they're offering a free trial in honor of NaNoWriMo! (I made that link extra long, so you wouldn't miss it.) Plus you get a 50% discount off the price if you're a NaNoWriMo winner! How cool is that? Now I'm going to have to sign up for NaNoWriMo and see if I can win again.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Revision Class

Sorry in advance, but this post is going to be full of links. It's link soup goodness!

Several years ago, I joined an online writer's group called Forward Motion. (It's free.) It was founded by Holly Lisle (this is a link to her Amazon book list, not her website...yet). The idea is that published authors "pay back" by helping out budding authors. Holly left Forward Motion just about the time I joined, to devote more time and energy to her writing, so I don't know her, even in the internet sense of the word when you "internet know" someone.

(As a side note, I took the 2 Year Novel Class at Forward Motion, more later if anyone is interested, and used that to write my first draft of Troll Wife. I loved that class.)

Holly also has a website. And she has lots of good articles on her website. I have a link to her "one pass revision" article up in my side bar. I joined her email list a few months ago, and yesterday I read that she's offering a 21 week How To Revise Your Novel class. This class is not free. It costs $49.95 a month. It's a subscription, so you can quit any time along the way.

I'm seriously thinking about taking it. Yes, it would mean that my hoped for end date for revisions would get pushed back, but if it makes my book stronger, it would be worth it. My big issues/fears are:
1. I've never had a class from Holly, so I don't know what it will be like. On the other hand, I do like her One Pass Revision Article, so chances are pretty good that I would like the class.
2. Am I just putting off the date for starting my agent search?
3. The cost. Ouch! I don't think I can afford it, though I always manage to find room in my budget if I want something enough.

I'm afraid the second one is the biggest one, because how can I tell? If I'm making a strong story, that's good. If I'm just avoiding the next phase (querying) that's very bad.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the info, in case anyone needs help with revisions and wants to take a look at the class outline.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Opening Line

This is how it works for me. I get the opening and the story grows from it. So here's the new opening I got yesterday.

"I finally picked the guy I wanted to kill me. Finding a way to end my life was harder than you might imagine. I couldn't kill myself, because I didn't want friends or family to be the ones to find my body. I didn't want to hire someone, because what if the police thought my husband did the hiring? That would suck. I didn't just want to walk in front of an oncoming car and give some decent person nightmares for the rest of their life.

Nope, I needed to pick a jerk. A real scumbag, who wouldn't feel bad after mowing me down, and I wouldn't feel bad if he went to jail after killing me."

Ugh! Not another first person book! But I'm not sure the inner turmoil of the woman could be carried by third person. This one would probably go one of two ways. Either she finds a reason to live after all, or she discovers that the more you learn about a person, the more sympathy you have for them. So her "total scumbag" isn't as totally a scumbag as she first thought.

Eh, doesn't make me jump up and down. Let's see if it haunts me over the next few years.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Parent/Teacher Conference Day

Today is Parent/Teacher Conference Day. Today is the day when I go to each of my son's teachers and find out:
  1. How is he doing in class, since his dad's death?
  2. How are his grades?
  3. What is the teacher doing to help my son with his learning disability?
Naturally, question number one is new. (Note to self, bring tissues.) Question number two is pretty predictable. This early in the year, his grades are always good. Question number three is the one that drives me crazy. Because I can guarantee that each teacher will look at me and say, "What learning disability?". This while Michael is running in circles around us, dancing (complete with jazz hands), or checking to see if he can actually jump high enough to bite himself on the forehead. (He knows he can't, he just likes to try.)

I have had this conversation with teachers every year since Michael was diagnosed. The irony to me is that his teachers did *more* to help him before he was diagnosed. The teachers since then either don't know that he has a learning disability (despite the fact that I tell them, in person, at Meet the Teacher Night; that it's in his file; and that I send them a note on the first day of school). Or because he's very smart and at this point of the year he's getting A's, they just don't believe he has a learning disability.

What makes me scream (and if it happens this year, I may literally scream) is when the teacher's comments note that Michael "doesn't concentrate on his work" or "is disorganized". That's like a P.E. teacher noting that a kid in a wheelchair doesn't run enough in class.

And all of the above is why I am writing the non fiction ADD/ADHD parenting book "Michael is a Verb". Because I know there are other parents out there in my same situation. I know, because I can hear them screaming.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Play lists

I've always wanted to be a writer that had a playlist to go with my books. I want it more than ever, after reading BuildingMyLife's playlist posts for her WiP "Lighthouse". 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The fact is that while a song might inspire a story, or while I might think a song has a similar theme to one of my stories, I don't have play lists. I can't write and listen to music at the same time. I've tried, but I'm just one of those people that tunes out the sounds around me when I write.

However, I've been thinking of trying to find ways to create playlists for my stories anyway. A kind of "If I could listen to playlists, these songs would have been on it for this book". Or if I ever make a book trailer, I could use those songs as the music for trailer. (Oops, then there's the whole thing about getting rights to use those songs.)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dulcinea - new book for the to do list?

This idea has been hanging around for a while. so I've finally decided to grant it status on my "to be done" list. It's called Dulcinea (may change this name).

It's a retelling of the story of Dulcinea after Don Quixote has been taken away and "made sane" again. While she thought she would be relieved once the crazy man who has made a havoc of her life has been taken away, she misses seeing the world through his eyes. She convinces Sancho Panza (who also finds life duller without the Don) into coming with her and rescuing the Don from the people that are "healing" him.

They arrive too late. Don Quixote is no more, and it is only Alonso Quixano that they find. They spend the rest of the book trying to get Alonso to turn back into Don Quixote.

Since it's a retelling, it won't be set in the same time and place, which means the names will have to be changed. I also kind of like the idea of setting it in the future. That's the bones, anyway. I'm not sure where I'll be going with it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Droid post

No I'm not posting from my Droid (though I probably could), I'm posting about my Droid. This is actually a piece of advice to anyone that owns a Droid or is thinking about getting one.

In my opinion, the very first thing you should do when you get a Droid (after re-learning how to answer the phone and turn the device on and off) is sign up at AppBrain. It's free. (Oh, and I don't get anything for "advertising" it.)

AppBrain is the Droid App Marketplace, only with a user friendly interface. Also, there are some great Droid power users on AppBrain, and you can follow them. Yeah, kind of like Twitter, except there are no tweets. You can just see what apps they're using. I'd recommend following Gina Trapani. I've found a lot of good apps by following her. (She was a founding editor of Lifehacker, so no surprise that she's one of the most followed people on AppBrain.)

Back to AppBrain. You can install apps to your phone directly from the website. You can let people see what apps you have (or keep them private). You can find out what apps are the most popular by country, gender, or age.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Continuity Error!

Ack! If the instructor gets injured in chapter eight, he's not going to be able to teach Troll Wife the next night, no matter how quickly he's healed.

This means that the substitute (evil) instructor will have to take her out the next night. This means chapter nine needs to be totally re-written!

You know what, I'm ok with that. In fact, I'm eager to write it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Progress Report

I finally got past chapter eight this week. It's not beautiful, but it's there. This round of revisions is all about getting the scenes in the right order. I'm afraid I'm going to have some left over scenes when I get to "the end". Then I will have to decide if I am going to try to shoe-horn them in, or just cut them completely.

Chapter eight is one of my favorites. That and chapter twelve. I've been trying to figure out why I like those best. I'm afraid that it may be because those are the chapters where the worst things happen to Troll Wife. Which makes me afraid that there isn't enough of that in the other chapters of the book. I'm trying very hard not to worry about that right now. Because if it's true, I'm afraid the book will get trunked.

I'm working on chapter nine this morning. I'm frustrated that I'm not already done with this. Why is this revision taking so much longer than the writing? Why is it so much less fun?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I am Effing Brilliant

My top five reasons why you should use a pen name.

5. You're in the witness protection program, and you don't want your former "co-workers" to find you.
4. You got drunk at a writer's convention. You don't remember anything that happened, but from the You Tube videos, you know you can never face anyone in the industry again.
3. Your name is hard to spell. If you're not sure, call ten customer service agents, give them your name, and ask them how they spell it. If one or more mispell your name, use a pen name. Something simple like "John Smith". Or wait, is that spelled "Jon Smith"?
2. You hate your name. You're bored with your name. You think "Spring Fairy of the Green Knowe" is a better name than the plain name your parents gave you.

And the number one reason for using a pen name:

1. When a rejection letter comes, it's much easier to "not take it personally" if it's addressed to your pen name. "Dear Spring Fairy of the Green Knowe, you suck" hurts less than "Dear Suzi, you suck".

I am surprised that these reasons are rarely listed when people are deciding whether or not to use a pen name.

Seriously, there are lots of good reasons to use a pen name and "hard to spell correctly" is a major one. I can't tell you how many times I asked for Rosemary Edghill books at the bookstore, and they couldn't spell her name correctly, so they would tell me "no". Even though they had the latest Bast book on an endcap! (The ultimate irony, of course, is that Rosemary Edghill is the pen name of eluki bes shahar.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My First Page Review is Up

My second place winning entry in Anne Mini's contest is up and reviewed. I have to admit that I was so nervous, I had to ask my husband for stand-by emotional support, just in case. However, Anne was complimentary, clear and polite as always, and I was able to swallow the bitter pill of discovery that I still have problems with meeting formatting guidelines.

I swear I studied her guidelines until I thought I got them all right. "Whatever else may happen," I thought, "at least I won't be rejected for not following the guidelines." Oh well, live and (hopefully) learn.

Her kind words (she described my premise as "darned charming and full of potential") came at just the right time, too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Burning Droid Question

I know, my Droid is slim, it's shiny, it's great for distracting my son (he loves playing with the animated wallpaper on the phone). But I know what you really want to know. We're writers. What we want to know is, can you write on the Droid?

Simple answer: Yes

Long answer: Yes, but I think you'd have to be mad hatter crazy (or a teenager) to do so. Yes, it has a word processing program. Yes, it has note taking apps. Yes, you can type on on that tiny keyboard. And that's where it breaks down. Unless you're a dab hand at texting, you won't be able type quickly enough for it to be workable.

Now, there are faster typing programs available. (Swype seems to be winning this place right now.) I haven't used Swype yet, so I can't speak to that. There is also voice recognition software out there. I'm using Vlingo. It was free, and does a passable job for things like emails. It "learns", so as it becomes more accurate, it may work for writing. We'll see. But it's probably just easier to leave yourself a voice mail and transcribe it later.

Or, use Google Voice. More about Google Voice later.

(Seriously, I can't help but notice that Google now has all of my information. The day they decide to become evil, I will either have to create an entire new identity or become a loyal minion. Hey, as long as they keep feeding me good tools for my life, I'm picking loyal minion.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Yup, I did it. I got a Droid. I've had it for four days now, and I love it with a love that can't believe I haven't had one of these since they were first available. Seriously, it couldn't be better if were made out of dark chocolate. (If only because the dark chocolate would get all melty in my pocket, or I would eat my Droid, and then be out of the wonder that is my Droid love.)

I will undoubtedly spontaneously burst into Droid love songs and Droid App reviews over the next unknown time period.

(Likely winner for the best downloaded app is Tasker. More later.)

Eight Questions

Melissa Getting Published tagged me to answer eight questions about myself.

   1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?
According to my family, I already have a couple of superpowers (including locating "lost" objects and mind reading). But my real superpower is the ability to spread calm. I can talk people down from high emotional states, which was a huge plus when I was doing phone tech support. (Because nothing makes you crazy like your computer not working at 3 am.)

   2. Who is your style icon?
In my head I have this imaginary Suzi that has a great fashion sense. (A little bit of steampunk, a little bit of gypsy, mixed with a little bit of Ralph Lauren country/western.) Unfortunately, that Suzi doesn't exist in the real world. If she did, she would totally be my style icon.

   3. What is your favorite quote?
It changes. Right now I like Mark Twain's "Clothing makes the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

   4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
When my son got so caught up in reading my WiP that he forgot he was a human, and thought he was faeish.

   5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?
Seanan McGuire, with emphasis on "Dorothy", "Earthquake Weather", "That's What A Woman's For" and "Dear Gina".

   6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
I'm a night owl, but I've been forced by circumstance to become a morning person.

   7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
I love them both. I used to be a professional dog trainer. However, I haven't lived in a dog friendly place for years, so we have (three) cats and no dogs.

   8. What is the meaning behind your blog name.
Google vanity. When I did a search on my name, the first 42 links were for someone named Suzi McGowan not Suzi McGowen. It's bad when your name doesn't even come up when you google yourself. I figured I might as well change my blog name now, while I was still new, and try to get my own name in the top ten search results for, you know, my name. (Just in case an agent ever googles me.)

Now would be my turn to tag other people. However, I broke many of the links to my blog when I changed that name, so I'm not getting many readers anymore. (Gotta love blogger stats.) So, if you are one of the people that are still able to read me, please feel free to answer these questions. They're fun and they don't bite.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad

(My first attempt at a song lyric/post title.)

I have wanted a Droid since before they first came out. We were in the middle of buying a house (in fact, the notary that came over for our signatures had his new release day Droid on him, and I was distracted from house signing for a few minutes by shiny Droid talk). Anyway, in the middle of buying a house didn't seem like the best time.

But now that we've owned the house for ten months? Surely now is a good time to get a Droid ($199 with Verizon's "New Every Two" plan) and an extra $30 a month for the cheapest data plan? Right? Um, no. But I can fit it into my budget, so I'm getting closer to doing it. Which is why I groan and start singing, "I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad".

Updated to add: Doh! I meant to add a couple of LifeHacker links about the Droid to this post. (Since these links were really the whole point of the post, and not my Droid hunger, per se.) The Complete Android Guide and Best Android Apps for Getting Things Done

Making Choices

(I'm just realizing my post titles suck. Maybe I need to find a formula and go with it. Song titles seem fun, but my musical library may not be up to the task. Maybe I could go with book titles, or book quotes?)

I haven't posted much this week, even though I've had lots of free time. (Work has awesomely given me bereavement time for my ex-husband.)  However, today I am moved to write about writing choices. I have to admit, it was the present tense thing that started it. But it also goes to first person, second person, third person, etc.

I'm not a huge fan of first person. I can read it, and I don't hate it, but too often I think that writers pick it because it's easier for them. When I decided to write Troll Wife in first person, I sat down and thought about why. Was there a compelling reason for this story to be told in first person? Was there a compelling reason for it to be told in third person? Yes to the first, no to the second. Troll Wife is a solitary character, and misunderstood by her society. I also have a theme in my book about how outsiders view society. To show how Troll Wife feels and what she thinks, it had to be first person. It also gives a good platform to compare and contrast how Oubliette feels about society vs how Troll Wife does.

Now, present tense. I admit I hate it. I won't read it, except as an experiment to see if I still hate it. Nathan Bransford had a link to an article, which linked to an article about the upswing in the use of present tense. Philip Hensher is a former Booker prize judge and he thinks that present tense is being used to make writing sound more vivid.

The article is really good and doesn't strike me as knee jerk at all. I do think there are very few uses for present tense in a story. But I think you (as the writer) should be able to state what those reasons are. Does the character die before the story ends? That's a valid reason, in my world. A super popular book was written in present tense, so it must be good? Doesn't cut it for me.

If the reason is basically "peer pressure" then I think you need to review your reasons. Do you really want to write a book that's major trait is that you gave in to peer pressure?

I think it's not enough for writers to think about character, plot and themes. I think that tense and viewpoint also need to be made as conscious decisions, not just "it feels right". Figure out why it feels right. That will help you grow as a writer and make better choices. In my not so humble opinion.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Status of Ex

This is a hard and complicated post. I just want to get this out of my system. I'm not looking for comments or hugs.

When I say "my ex", people always nod and say "oh" as though they know what our relationship looks like. But it's not that clear cut. When I go in to work tomorrow and talk about my weekend, I don't know if I should say "my ex" or "one of my best friends that I've been mad at for the past two or three years." Not really mad at, just mad. Mad at the choices he made that ended up with him being jobless and homeless.

He went into the VA hospital a couple of weeks ago. Friday day they had to operate and a little after midnight on Friday night they called me. (He put me down as his emergency contact.) They thought he had a major heart attack, he'd been without a pulse for 20 minutes, but they would keep trying CPR. At 25 minutes they got a pulse back and called again to let me know. We (my mom, my new husband, my son and I) went out the hospital in the wee hours of Saturday morning (or late hours of Friday night) and stayed there with him for a few hours. We went back again in the afternoon on Saturday and just got back from seeing him again today.

CPR keeps some oxygen flowing to the brain, but not a lot. There's a lot of brain damage. He can open his eyes, but he can't blink on command. He can't move. He can't even twitch his fingers. He's dying. His brother has given a DNR instruction to the hospital today, which I'm grateful for.

We were married for 20 years. We have a 16 year old son. I've cried more in the past two days than I thought was possible, but I'm not sure if I'm crying for my ex, for me, or for our son.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Design

I picked out a new design for my blog. I love it, but don't know how long I'll keep it. I had to revert to the old blogger style to use it, and that means (among other things) that I don't have my nav bar anymore. That makes it harder to log in and post/comment from work. (During my lunch hour, of course!)

The design came from Blogger Templates. They had a lot of very nice designs, and I may stay with the old blogger style, just so I can swap out with the pretty pictures.

While I'm at it, I may as well change the name of my blog. I hope I don't lose everyone in the next few minutes! Keep your fingers crossed, please :)

Update. Well, that wasn't too bad. I only lost about 20 blogs that I was following. Rats! At least I still have the 80 or more I was following through Blogger. And of course, now all the links that have my old journal name in them don't work any more, but c'est la vie.

Updated Update: Hopefully fixed. I went to Google and pulled up a cached copy of my blog, and got the list of blogs I'd been following from there! Whew!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New (to me) Band

We had a band come and play for us at work yesterday. (We get this every week or two.) This was a Finnish band. Now, there's a few things you can be sure of, if a Finnish band comes to Hot Topic to play.

First, you know any blonds in the band will be naturally blond.
Second, you know they'll speak impeccable english.
Third, you can be sure they're a metal band.

Well, this band was named Apocalyptica and yes, the blonds were real, they spoke perfect english and they were a metal band. Cello metal. Yes, metal played with three or four cellos (depending on the song).

I'm not a huge metal fan, but for Apocalyptica, I'll make the exception. They were wonderful! My favorite songs were "I Don't Care", "End of Me", and "Not Strong Enough". I downloaded the whole album, so I may have other favorites to add by the time I'm done listening to it.

If you're intrigued by the idea of Finnish Cello Metal, you can check them out at Amazon or (company plug).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Write Right Away

Recently The Agency Gatekeeper made an observation that she's getting a large number of stories with similar themes.

I know why. Ideas are real objects. That's why, if you forget something, but go back to where you were last thinking of it, you will remember it again. It's nothing magical about the spot. The idea was just there, waiting for you, and you ran into it again. If you don't move fast enough, the idea moves on, and then someone else will stumble over it.

Sometimes, ideas do the multiple submission thing. Several people will get the same idea, at about the same time. (Look at the history of the light bulb.) The moral of that story is, when you get an idea, start writing. Because that idea may be sent out to several people at once, and then you'll all be submitting at once, and the gatekeepers everywhere will think "What's up with all the balloon stories this week?"

In a not entirely unrelated story, I gave one of my story ideas away last week. I've been thinking of the selkie story for years (literally). But I didn't want to write it. However, the idea wouldn't go away. I mentioned to one of my writing crit/partners in crime Building a Life, and she loved it. I knew that my idea had found its forever home and gave it to her right away. She wrote 10,000 words and checked in to make sure I really wanted to give it away. I did :)

I'm so happy that I found the right home for that idea. But now I wonder how many other people are foster parents for ideas, rather than the designated writer? Is there an idea that you don't want to write? If you could pick an ideal author for that idea, who would it be? Should there be a shelter for ideas that need a forever home?

Writer's Despair

You know how writers go up and down on the despair and happiness wheel? It's kind of self-induced bi-polar disease that writers get. Right now, I'm on the down side. Anne Mini over at Author! Author! is getting closer to reviewing my prize winning entry.

And I'm dreading it.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is a contest that I entered. That I won (or at least came in the top three). That this is something I want.

And then I (or my editor) reminds me of the facts. My story starts slowly. Yes, I do have a great opening paragraph, but the fact of the matter is that I spend the rest of the entire first page (250 words minus number of words in opening paragraph) trying to show (not tell) what genre the book is, what my character is, and some of her magical abilities. People may think I have too much back story, or that I don't have enough action.

As a reader, I resent it when I'm told things. So, that's the way I write. Don't tell me this is set in the modern era. Mention cars and streetlights and I'll figure it out. I promise. 

So, I have to decide what to do. First, write the book I want to read. Then, either submit or edit based on what I think others would like to read. I think reading the first ten pages would give a good showing of my writing style, what the main character is like, and the general tone of the story. But five pages? Would that be enough? I don't think so. Maybe I should only submit to agents that want ten pages :)

Yay! Seanan McGuire won the Campbell!

I was delighted today to read that my Internet friend* Seanan McGuire had won the Campbell today. I'm so glad that her hard work and letters to the Great Pumpkin have been rewarded. I'm so happy for her! Congratulations, Seanan (aka Mira Grant).

*An Internet friend is someone that you know, from years of reading his/her blog. You know many details of hir life, up to and including details about hir pets. You have never met. S/he doesn't know you from Adam, but you still think of hir fondly, as though you were really friends. In the real world you'd be called a stalker, but this is ok because it's the Internet :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cryptozoology hook?

I might have just possibly found my cryptozoology hook in the shower the other day.

"How many years do skunks live?"

Rachel didn't look up from the seemingly innocent letter. "Are you talking two legs or four?" She was pleased to note that her voice didn't betray her, and the hand holding the note from her ex didn't shake.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Writers Market sale

Right now (ending August 31) is having a special. You can subscribe monthly for 5.99, one year for 29.99 (normally 39.99), and for two years for 44.99 (normally 54.99). (via Guide To Literary Agents) The one-year code is 1YRAUG10 and the two-year code is 2YRAUG10.

I'm leary of spending money for a book I haven't finished yet, but at the same time, I really do think that *this* time, I'm going to do it. I'm thinking about just going for the two years.

Anyway, if you hadn't heard about the special, and it's something you're interested in, here you go! (Feel free to let me know if you subscribe, or if you think I should or shouldn't!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Banana Split Day

Today is Banana Split Day, and in celebration of the banana ice cream delight, we got free banana splits at work today. Have I mentioned working at Hot Topic rocks?

In other weird holiday news, Tales of a Writing Geek talks about this Saturday's holiday "Read Comics In Public Day", which I will totally be doing.

Also, I should know better than to post while reading blogs, because my voice is easily and heavily affected by the blogs I read. So if I don't sound like me, that's why. (I also tend to pick up the accents of people around me when I'm talking.) Fortunately, this blog is not owned by Apple, because they would determine that it's not me and close me down or report me to the proper authorities or police. (I like that "or". Proper Authorities OR the police. Because they wouldn't be the same thing, according to Apple.) (Found via Lifehacker.)

I'm toying with the idea of doing NaNoWriMo again this year. But I have to admit the Novel in Three Days challenge sounds funny. I particularly enjoyed the story of yelling at the neighbor's dog on day two of the challenge. (Found via Nephele.)

So, will anyone else be joining me in Banana Split Day, Read Comics in Public Day, or possibly in Novel in Three Days, or NaNoWriMo?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Link of the Month

Ok, I know you are all reading Mockingjay, but I thought this was as good a time as any to share my favorite link of the month.

Weronika Janczuk is a new agent over at D4EO Literary. She has a super fast turn around time (less than 12 hours) and a feature called "Ask Weronika".

Last week, someone asked her about online presence and Weronika broke it down into categories and levels. (Unpublished/unagented author to published author.) She also talked about what she expected to see, as well as how often to update (or not) and how to handle it so your online presence doesn't look neglected.

It's a great post. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Troll Wife's Tale update

Thank you to everyone that offered support (both here on the blog and in email). It really helped me get through the blues of realizing that this isn't as done as I thought it was.

I spent this weekend reworking my outline. (I ended up using Keynote, which was just what I needed, though Excel probably would have worked just as well. I just needed something newish to help get me through the blues.)

I reworked the outline, and rewrote chapter six. (One down, four more to go.) I feel really good. I've done more work on my book this weekend then I have in the past three months, and I love that feeling.

It's kind of like taking a shower. I don't like the idea of getting into the shower, but once I'm in it, I love it and when I'm out I feel really good. (Hey, don't look at me like that! I shower! And probably lots of people don't like the idea of a shower, especially if they saw "Psycho".)

In other news, I now worship the outline. I, Suzi, take you outline, to be my writing guide, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until the end of the book do us part.

Oh waiting, that's wedding vows. I guess I that means I love the outline. (Of course, for my next book, it may be different.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It Is With A Heavy Heart...

It is with a heavy heart that today I announce what I think I have secretly known for some time. A Troll Wife's Tale can't be revised. It's going to need to be re-written.

Not the whole thing, just the middle third or so. When I took out one subplot, I just left too many holes. Besides, while trying to revise, I've discovered a couple of scenes that need to be in this book that make it work better. (Seth the bartender, for example. He's going to appear in several scenes now, not just one.)

The scene where Troll Wife gets shot? That's going to have to move much closer to the end.The replacement subplot where the guardian and the siren fall in love? That will have to be strengthened which means it needs more scenes. (Little scenes, but still scenes.)

All of this means that I probably won't be ready by the end of this year to send it out to agents. I hate to say that, because it sounds like yet another perfectly good and logical excuse to put off sending this story out into the world, and because it feels like failure. Yet again I've failed to meet a goal for this story. But I also think it's true.

This also means I need to create a new outline. The original outline for this book was created on 3x5 cards, and those cards are long gone. (Note to self, in the future, save your outline.) And, knowing me as I do, something shiny helps with this process.

So, does anyone have any outlining software they recommend?

For Your Electron Microscope Scenes

Sometimes things are true, but they don't sound true, so they can't be used in stories.

For example, here's some things I learned abut working with electron microscopes from my son. They have different knives that they use to prepare slides. Diamond knives, of course, but glass knives as well. Glass knives are incredibly sharp, but they're also one shot. Use it once, and it's no longer sharp enough to be used again.

But you know what else they use? Eyelashes. They rub their eyes, or collect fallen eyelashes when they find them, and dab them into a bit of wax which they then put on the end of a stick. It's to help pick up and move the slide sample into place on the slide.

But, can you make using eyelashes sound realistic in a story with electron microscopes? It sounds good, but would take so much detail to use, explain, and justify that it probably wouldn't work. You could mention it in passing, but the number of readers that would get it would probably be limited to people that have created slides for electron microscopes, their families, and now you. That's a pretty niche market :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

You Can Say "Thank You"

I was going to post the YouTube video of Leonard Nimoy singing "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" here for everyone to enjoy (or at least spork your eyes out), but at the last minute I resisted. You have been saved! Feel free to thank me.

If you're talking about eyes, this is one instance where you must use the word spork. However, in general use, I prefer the term runcible spoon. (Even if it only sometimes means spork.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Which I Pre-Order "Blameless"

Back when, I had no intention of ordering Gail Carriger's "Soulless". It seemed like a light, frothy, (albeit steampunk) romance novel. I'm not overly fond of romance novels, per se. (Yes, I've read some, and like any other genre, some are great, and some are..not so great.)

But I was able to get a sample chapter on my Kindle, liked what I read, and used my Amazon gift certificate to buy it. Loved it. Light, frothy romance? Yes. But something more and something unexpected. Bought "Changeless". Loved it, but now I'm worried.

Romance novels, by definition have a HEA ending. They are required to have one. If it doesn't have a happily ever after, it's not a romance novel. And after the ending of Changeless, I'm worried about how Blameless will play out. Is there any way to have a HEA after what happens in Changeless? Is the Parasol Protectorate not a romance series after all, but a steampunk novel with elements of romance?

I'm trusting the author to make it work. So much so, that I just pre-ordered Blameless for my Kindle. I didn't wait for it to come out and read a sample chapter. Or wait for other people to read it and find spoilers for it on line. I'm trusting that author will make it work.

Next time, I'm going to try to figure what what I can learn from her books. Not just like/dislike, but what works and how can I use that tool in my own writing? I hope it will be very meta, and I'm sure there will be some hand waving, but I hope not too much.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In Which I Discuss Some Things I Have Learned About Writing

To give my mind something shiny to play with while working on revisions for A Troll Wife's Tale (and let's not kid ourselves, unlike writing, for me revisions are work) I've decided to restart world building for The Clockwork Cat.

So, how will The Clockwork Cat be different from A Troll Wife's Tale? (Besides things like, you know, point of view and genre.)

Hopefully, I will apply the things that I learned (am learning) while writing Troll Wife and avoiding mistakes with Clockwork Cat. I'll be making all new mistakes, but that's ok. If they're new, it shows my learning curve.
Note:These are my things. If they resonate for you, great! But don't listen to them if they don't work for you. (That's part of Thing 1.)

Thing 1. The big one. Don't do something to your story just because an expert tells you to. If I'm ever lucky enough to get an agent, and the agent wants revisions, I will have to relearn this one in a different way, which involves listening to revisions and deciding if they make the story stronger and then writing based on that. However, for the very first writing process, when I'm the only reader, I should write the book my way.

Thing 2. Outlines are your friend. It's ok to deviate from an outline, but if you do, update the outline with the changes. Outlines are a great help during the writing process, but they are also a wonderful tool when creating a synopsis. It's easier to create a synopsis from an outline than it is from each page and chapter of the book.

Thing 3. There is no Thing 3 (as per Dr. Seuss). Yes, I hope I've learned more than two things in Troll Wife, but these two are so big, they overwhelm everything else right now.

Monday, August 9, 2010

In Which I Bang My Head Against My Keyboard. Repeatedly.

I'm having a lot of problems with this blurb. Here are the elements I'm trying to incorporate. I want it to show that it's an urban fantasy, without saying that it's an urban fantasy. I'm trying to use setting cues, like telephone pole or gunshot wound to convey that.

I want to have three basic parts: Character, Conflict, Consequence.

I want to let people know how dangerous Oubliette is, by showing ("killed millions of people") not telling ("Oubliette is dangerous").

I want to let people know that the tooth fairies are both a solution and a problem. Plus, the leader of the tooth fairies has a whole spider motif going on. I try to get both of these things at once by talking about "the web of the tooth fairies".

Here's my latest attempt. I may just have to go with it, since I'm running out of time. (My son hates it.)

Troll Wife could use a job, so when she finds the poster on the telephone pole that says, "Any fae may apply", she does. She's as surprised as anyone, when she's accepted for training as a tooth fairy.

She's also surprised by the impressive number of injuries she racks up on the job. A broken bone and a concussion? Eh, maybe she should have expected that. After all learning to fly isn't as easy as it sounds. But the gunshot wound? That was because she was fighting a monster that she ran into while collecting teeth.

The monster, called Oubliette, was a soldier in the war between the humans and the fae, hundreds of years ago. Now Oublieette wants to start the war all over again. This time, it wants to kill all the humans, not just most of them. The other tooth fairies should be her allies in this war against Oubliette, but Troll Wife doubts that any fae that smells like cotton candy can help save the world.

Troll Wife only has days to learn how to fight the Oubliette, protect the human children from it, and make sure that she collects her quota of teeth. While she's at it, she needs to find out what dark secret the tooth fairies are hiding, and rescue herself from their tangled web.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Another Blurb for A Troll Wife's Tale

Here's my second version of a blurb for Anne Mini. Again, any and all feedback is welcome. Do you like it better or worse than the first version? (This one is 250 words exactly.)

I took stock of my injuries. I hadn't even been on the job a month and I had 14 bruises, a concussion, multiple cuts and abrasions, a broken bone, and now, a gunshot wound. Being a tooth fairy shouldn't be this hard.

But it is this hard, and I knew it a few days into the job when I met Oubliette. Oubliette was said to have killed millions of humans during the Plague War hundreds of years ago. The only thing that ended the war was a pact between the humans and the faeish. Tooth fairies keep that pact every time we give a coin for a child's tooth. But Oubliette isn't ready to end the war, which means anyone that has lost a tooth, but didn't get a coin for it, is in danger.

One of my new friends is a homeless boy with his first loose tooth.

Being a tooth fairy isn't all bad. I love flying with the magical wings they gave me. For the first time in my life, I'm making friends. The wings make us all look alike so no one cares that I'm a troll. Of course, I wasn't given full disclosure about the wings. They interfere with my magic in strange ways. 

I think I've discovered something else. Something wrong with the tooth fairies. Now I have to stop Oubliette before Peter loses his tooth, and find a way to get myself out of this tooth fairy web. And maybe keep the wings?

The really cool thing about the blurb is that it works as a query. But for some reason, a blurb is easier to write than a query. Go figure!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blurb for A Troll Wife's Tale

Here's my first draft of the blurb that Anne Mini asked for. Any feedback is more than welcome. It needs to be between 200 and 250 words. This is 233.

Troll Wife applies for the job of tooth fairy, but she doesn't expect to be hired. After all, most faeish respect trolls but don't want to be around them.  Becoming a tooth fairy is a happy surprise and at first Troll Wife only sees the benefits. She gets a set of wings that give her the ability to fly and make her look just like everyone else. Best of all, she starts to make friends.

A few days into the job, she discovers that it also comes with a dangerous enemy. Oubliette was said to have killed millions of humans during the Plague Wars hundreds of years ago. The only thing that ended the war is the pact between humans and faeish. Tooth fairies keep that pact, every time they give a child a coin for a tooth.  But Oubliette isn't ready to end the war. Anyone not covered by the pact is fair game. Which means any child that has lost a tooth, but hasn't received a coin yet, is in danger.

One of Troll Wife's new friends is a homeless boy with his first loose tooth.

As if Oubliette weren't bad enough, Troll Wife discovers that the tooth fairies are hiding a dark secret of their own.  Troll Wife must stop Oubliette before Peter loses his tooth and rescue herself before she's permanently caught in the web of the tooth fairies.

Friday, August 6, 2010

In Which My Son Almost Goes to the Dentist and I Get Test Results

My son, Michael, needs braces. Badly. So badly that he's finally come to that realization himself. Today, I took Michael to his dentist appointment, without which you can't get a referral to an orthodontist, and no orthodontist means no braces.

We showed up for the apt and filled out the paperwork. Unfortunately, they couldn't find him in the insurance system, but said he should be there next month, so we rescheduled for next month. So that was Michael almost going to the dentist.

As we were walking into the dentist, I got a phone call from a number that didn't identify itself but seemed vaguely familiar. I answered it and it was my gynecologist. They got the results from pap test that I had done a couple of weeks ago, and it came back abnormal. They need to retest me again in three months. They assured me that it's probably nothing, but they need to retest to be sure.

Chances are very good that it will go away on its own. I'm not Cleopatra (the queen of denial) however, so I will be going back for follow up testing which will let me know if I need to do something more.

I'm shaken, but not stirred. I will intermittently worry about this for the next three months. I will stop acting as though I have all the time in the world to do all the things I want to do. (Honesty compels me to add, "At least, I hope I will".)

I also hope that all the women reading this will make sure to get their pap test done. No it's not fun, but it's very important. And just so the men out there don't feel left out, please urge the special women in your lives to get their pap tests done, too.

Writing to Trend

So after watching Jackson Pearce's video about Writer's Blok, I headed over to her website to check it out and came across this great quote:

When I see other authors trying to write to trends because they think they’ll make more money, or get more respect, or get a better agent if they write x/y/z instead of the genre they know and love, I can’t help but be frustrated.

Why am I sharing this quote? Because there are writers out there that need to read it. Yes, I'm looking at you. No, not you, (if you're reading this blog, it's not you).

I'm looking at you, Writing This Genre Because It's Hot Right Now. (Hint, if you hate all the other books in your genre, you're writing in the wrong genre. If you call your genre "icky", you're writing in the wrong genre. If the only thing you like about this genre is that "it's where the money is", guess what? Not only are you writing in the wrong genre, but you're still not going to be making money at it, because readers can feel your contempt. You think they'll never know, but you're wrong. They know.)

Just sayin'.

Writer's Blok Music Video

I loved this! It's a music video all about cat waxing, which I found on the Agency GateKeeper blog.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Win, Place or Show!

Back in April I entered my first contest. It was the The Author! Author!/WHISPER Great First Page Made Even Better Contest over at Anne Mini's blog, Author! Author!.

This morning, I got an email from Anne Mini that I had won second place. Wow! Not only that, but because there were "such a lot of exciting, well-written entries" (actual quote), they were extending the first page crit/review to everyone that had placed, which means that even though I didn't win, I still win! Wahoo!

I've learned a lot about writing and the odds of getting published during the course of this year. Ok, let's face it, I've been feeling pretty discouraged about the odds of getting published. This heartens me. I don't suck.

Now I need to write a little blurb about my book and send it to Anne Mini. (Doesn't that sound cool?)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

And Now A Political Moment

Today a judge in California (where I live) overturned Prop 8. Of course, he also put a stay on it, so my friends still can't get married, but at least it's a step in the right direction. And now, I'm going to link to Janet Reid's post, because she says it so much better than I do.

And then there's that quote from the judge on The Rejectionist's blog.

Misleading the Reader

If there is one thing I, as a reader, hate, it's being misled by the author. If I'm led to believe that the story will be a funny one, I want a funny one, not one that turns into a tragedy. If I'm reading a book that I've been led to believe will be romantic, I don't want it to turn into a thriller. If I were in the mood for a thriller, that's what I'd have picked up to read.

But as a writer, I'm afraid I'm doing exactly that with A Troll Wife's Tale. I mean the premise of the story (a female troll that becomes a tooth fairy) sounds like it will be a funny story. And it's possible that I may be able to have some funny moments in it (though as the quote goes, "dying is easy, comedy is hard", so I don't have high aspirations in the comedy portions of the story). But the general tone of the book is going to be darker, with (hopefully) scary stuff, and some real character development as the Troll Wife sees so much of herself in the Oubliette, and then decides how to resist becoming more like her.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to change this. I like some humor mixed with my thrillers (probably why I love Dean Koontz), but I don't know if I'm doing it right. I guess it's one more think to chalk up on my "to do" editing list. 

In Which I Meet A Character From My Book

A while back, we went to the movies. This theater is one I'm using in my story and at the end of the book my Troll Wife will actually move in there.

The guy taking tickets looked exactly the way I've described trolls look, when they're appearing among humans. He was perfect! I was so struck, I glanced at his name tag and noticed his name was the same as one of my minor characters in my story!

I wanted to point him out to my family and shout "Look! There he is! One of the characters from my book!". I almost felt like that playwright from "The Twilight Zone" (remember that one?). I was hugely excited, but managed to constrain myself enough not to point and shout about the nature of reality, or whether or not he was a troll. He'll never know, but if he did, I'm sure he'd thank me.

But it was incredibly cool to meet one of my characters :)

Best Compliment(s) Ever

Here are some of the best compliments I've ever gotten on my writing. You'll notice most of them are from my son. He is my alpha reader, so has had more chance to read my stuff than anyone else. I also believe his compliments. (When other people compliment me, I tend to discount it with "They're only being polite" or some such thing.)

Anyway, here are my favorite compliments:

I read a scene snippet to my son and he said "Mommy, you are so good at writing stories that when you write them, it just makes people want to read more."
That was the nicest compliment I'd ever gotten in my life, and I told him so :)

I read him a haiku that I'm doing for the writing dare. He said "I don't like it. I love it!" and then added "Of course, I love everything you write."

My son shyly told me that he likes to imagine my book getting published. 

No compliment will ever mean more to me than when my son was reading my story and said, "Dang it, Mommy, you made me forget I'm a human. Again!"

In reading my story to my writer's group, I mentioned that someone smelled like "fern seed". When I was done, another writer mentioned that ferns don't have seeds, they have spores. I said, "I know, but fern seed is in ingredient in spells of invisibility". He wasn't aware of that. I assured him that if you Google "fern seed" one of the results will mention that it's used in spells of invisibility. Another writer had the internet up and googled "fern seed". The first result mentioned "used in spells of invisibility". We all laughed and another writer said, "Never say Suzi doesn't do her research".

In Other News

In other news, Seanan McGuire (aka the blogger/author/singer that I most wish to be like when I grow up) is gibbering, agog and gob smacked. (Go see, because it's fun to watch.)

Her novel Feed (written under the name Mira Grant) made #74 on NPR's Audience Picks: Top 100 Thrillers

One of the things that I love and admire about Seanan is just how unrestrained she is with her delight. I am, sadly, a far more restrained person. But I'm trying to be less restrained.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Self Care Prompt

Over at Shrinking Violet Promotions ("Marketing for Introverts" which is the most compelling part for me, since I am a major introvert) they have a couple of prompts for today. My favorite one is the Self Care Prompt:

What are the five coolest things people have said about your writing? Write them down, then print them out and put them someplace where you can see them every day.

I know what mine are, and I'll put them up later, but I'd like to ask you. What are some of the best things that people have said to you about your writing?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Link Of The Day

This is my favorite Link Of The Day. Given that it is only 1:20, I'm betting pretty heavily that I won't find something better in tonight's round of surfing.

It is the rules for the ebook/real book drinking game. If I drank, this game would be awesome. As it is, I'm thinking about printing out the rules and pasting them to my wall, so I can keep a good laugh and some perspective in these stories.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Question of the Day

Here's my question of the day. Given the whole Wylie/Random House thing, how many new authors are going to be looking at Wylie as a possible agent?

(That link is just the latest in the series. There have been lots.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Am Sick (And Twisted)

I have a sick and twisted sense of humor, which is probably why I love this song.

OMG I Pass the Bechdel Test!

Here's the Bechdel Test. The work (book, film, play) has:
1. Two or more female characters
2. That speak to each other
3. About something other than a man

(I've heard of this test before, but Scalzi's blog Whatever just reminded me to apply it to my work.)

I panicked for a minute before I remembered that my villain and my hero are both female and talk to each other about all sorts of things (mostly how terrible humans are or aren't).

Whew! I pass!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gratitude Post

When I was 18, I spent 6 weeks traveling through England and Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and The Netherlands) on my bicycle. On the way home, my flight from the Netherlands was late, but I tried not to stress because I figured if I missed my flight from New York to Los Angeles, I'd just get a later flight.

When I finally arrived in New York and made it through customs, I had two dollars in my pocket and I was exhausted. I'd been awake for more than 24 hours. I had my luggage to contend with (not much, since I'd been traveling by bike) and a huge box for my bicycle. When your bike is in a box, it no longer rolls, it drags. I made it to the counter with 15 minutes to spare, only to be told that I was at the wrong counter. My flight was leaving from a different terminal, and I had better hurry because it was the last flight.

As I dragged my box behind me, trying to find the right terminal, I started to cry. I was never much of a crier, but this seemed like a great time to start. Some man said, "What's the matter?" I explained my problem while doggedly dragging my box. He "tsked" me and picked up my bike and carried it to the next terminal for me, all the while lecturing me on the importance of asking for help. I didn't mention that it never occurred to me to ask for help in New York. New York, after all, Has A Reputation. His accent placed him firmly in the New York area.

I made my flight without further problems, and got home safe. Even now, 28 years later, I remember that stranger that helped me make my flight. I said thank you at the time, but I want to say it again. Thank you for helping that crying girl make it home again. Today's gratitude post is to all Good Samaritans.

I Am Not Sick

I Am Not Sick. I'm spending my second day in bed, huddled under the blankets. Last night, my husband bought me Jack in the Box stuffed jalapenos (which is my food of choice when I'm sick) and today he went to the store and bought me Lindor dark chocolate truffles (which is my food of choice when chocolate is involved). If I were sick, these two foods would help me feel better. In other news, I have the best husband in the world.

In other Not Sick news, I finally broke down and read Patricia Briggs' blog. Because Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite authors, I've been afraid to read her blog. What if it turned into another Orson Scott Card moment? Fortunately, I liked what I read (most of which is written by her husband), and she completely won me over when I looked the items she has for sale. One of the items is a silver bullet, based on the bullets they developed while testing to see if silver bullets could be cast and made to function. You know my fondness for research!

There was also a link to Closed Circle Gateway which I haven't had the energy to go through yet. (Even though I Am Not Sick.) I want to link to it, so I can go back and look at it later. (It's a website by CJ Cherryh, Lynn Abbey, and Jane Fancher to buy stuff direct from author.)

Book Recommendation Sites

This week, Lifehacker recommended the top five book recommendation sites.


In the past, I've signed up for Shelfari and LibraryThing, but just found them too tedious to use. I use Amazon almost exclusively and find that the recommendations are usually pretty good. I think published writers (and agents, and editors) should at least belong to all five, just to help get the word out about their books. They're all free, so cost isn't an issue! :)

Update: GoodReads is getting the most votes right now at Lifehacker, so I'm trying it out. It's got a widget for the blog, so I'm trying that out, too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I like my Troll Wife hook, but...

I really like my Troll Wife hook, but I've been getting a lot of comments that basically say, "We already know she got the job, why are you spending so much time on becoming a tooth fairy!"

I don't want to cut out that part of the story. I think it's necessary. (Trim ok, but not cut out.) I don't want to give up my hook, because I think it's really good. I'm worried that my hook doesn't give the most accurate view of the story. So I came up with a couple of new hooks.

If you have a few minutes, please let me know which version you like better, 1, 2 or 3. (Number 1 is the original hook.)

1. I took stock of my injuries. I hadn't even been on the job a month and I had 14 bruises, a concussion, multiple cuts and abrasions, a broken bone, and now, a gunshot wound. Being a tooth fairy shouldn't be this hard.

2. A troll's life isn't easy in this economy. Matchmaking jobs have been hard to come by. Sure, living rent free in a library means lower living expenses. But a job, any job that would take me would be helpful. Even if it means being a tooth fairy.

3. I took stock of my injuries. I hadn't even been on the job a month and I had 14 bruises, a concussion, multiple cuts and abrasions, a broken bone, and now, a gunshot wound. Being a tooth fairy shouldn't be this hard. If only I had known the real job was monster fighter!

Rebecca's Lucky Day

For the possible WiP that has the hook "On the day she got kidnapped, Rebecca was wearing her lucky jeans." I think I have something more. I think Rebecca is either a stage magician or a professional tarot card reader.

Fortunately, I've done both, so the research isn't an issue.
It's definitely modern era. Either an adventure or a murder mystery. I love mysteries, so that might be fun.

Speaking of which, Editor Devil had a link to 20 Rules for Writing Detective Stories. I can't help but note that Agatha Christie broke every single one of those rules, and except for two (Murder On the Orient Express and 10 Little Indians) I don't think it worked for her. Just goes to show that no matter how big you are, sometimes you should still follow the rules.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Schedule -update

For my Friday To Do list, I got Michael out the door and on the way to work easily enough. (He has to get up at 5 and be out the door by 5:30. He and my husband take the train in to work together.)

I did not color my hair.

I did see my doctor.

My husband and I went to SouPlantation for dinner. We watched "Losers" on pay per view, while my husband pointed out the errors they'd made by splitting from the source material. (We all do this in my family. You should have heard my son while we were watching Percy Jackson.)

Eventually I headed off to bed, only to discover my book sitting by the bed. Just sitting there. As though I were going to be doing something... what was it? Oh yeah! Ten pages sorted out. At this point, it's after 10 and I figured I'd just cop to the fact I couldn't do the ten pages. Then I thought, "what the heck, at least try".

I figured that chapters one, two and three were fine (as far as having the correct scenes in them). I couldn't find chapter four, but I figured that was fine too. Chapter five though has a problem. She's supposed to meet the Hunters in chapter five. I found the scene that I'd written about the Hunters somewhere past chapter seven and moved it to chapter five. Exactly ten pages! Go me!

So, I'll try to do my hair tomorrow. And another ten pages. I  have to admit, getting those ten pages done has lifted a weight off me. I've been afraid that I couldn't do this. I know I have lots more to do, but it's a start. Maybe it's like eating an elephant. One bite at a time.

Friday Schedule

Today is my Friday off. (We get every other Friday off. Working for Hot Topic rocks.)

I still had to get up at 5 to help my son get ready for work. (This entails giving him his allergy and ADHD meds, reminding him not to get distracted by the shiny cats, reminding him to take a shower, reminding him to stop showering, reminding him not to get distracted by the shiny cats, reminding him to get dressed, reminding him not to get distracted by the shiny cats, reminding him to brush his teeth, reminding him not to get distracted by the shiny cats. You know, the little things.)

My carpal tunnel has flared up again. No surprise, I've been doing major data entry at work. At work we have a chiropractor that comes into the office twice a week.

Let me just enjoy that that sentence again. At work, we have a chiropractor that comes into our office. Twice a week. And you don't have to clock out to go see him! Did I mention working for Hot Topic totally rocks?

Anyway, he did some work and it's much better, but I'll have to see him again this coming week. In the meantime, in the interests of health preservation, I should limit my computer time today. (Yeah, like that's going to happen.)

I need to color my hair. Actually, I've needed to color my hair for the last four months, but I haven't gotten around to it.

Oops! I have a doctor's appointment today.

But most important! I need to fix at least 10 pages of my messed up middle of Troll Wife! (I'm posting this to keep myself accountable. I'll post an update on my success or failure.)

Plague Research for Fun and Profit (ok maybe not so much profit)

In my Troll Wife story, I mention "The Plague Wars". This was a war between the faeish and the humans, and was the first historical example of biological warfare on a massive scale.

I don't go into much detail about the Plague Wars in the story. If I took all the bits about the wars that are spread throughout the book and put them all together, it would be about  3 pages worth of stuff. That includes dialogue.

I did study the plague, (online articles and Discovery Channel documentaries) and also read "Return of the Black Death, The World's Greatest Serial Killer". Fully 3/4 of that book was about the symptoms of the disease.

Just as a side note, after reading Return of the Black Death, I agree with the authors that it wasn't the bubonic plague. There are similar symptoms, of course, but the incubation period doesn't match at all. And some of the worst hemorrhagic symptoms don't match. Plus the disease vector for the bubonic plague didn't even exist in some of the worst hit areas.

Anyway, other than the mention of the CCR5 gene and the death toll, none of that plague research ends up in the book. But I still needed to do it, so that I would know that what I did include was authentic and verifiable. I think it makes the stuff I made up seem more believable. I could be wrong :)

But lets face it, it was fun. If it weren't fun, I wouldn't have done nearly as much research. And as an added bonus, if anyone around me starts exhibiting symptoms of the Black Death, I'll know it right away!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Books on Writing

Steven King's "On Writing" is my favorite book on writing. It's mostly autobiographical, but even that shows information about writing. My favorite quote is, "Once you've had a 200 pound babysitter hold you down and fart in your face, a New York Times critic holds no fear."

I wish Joss Whedon would write a book about writing. Except for the way he handles love stories, I love the way he sets up story arcs. I've tried studying it, but all I can remember is the double reverse. (That's where the Big Bad at the start isn't the same person as the Big Bad at the end. And yes, you can guarantee that I'll be using the double reverse in just about everything I write.)

I'd also love Dean Koontz to write a book about writing. I love the way he mixes horror, hope, and humor. My favorite of his books also cause you to feel pity for the Big Bad. (I'm trying for that, too.)

So guys, get going and write those books!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Danger of Silence

You know how when the kids are quiet, that is when they're getting into the most trouble? Or (for those of you that are kidless, or have kids that never get into trouble) you know how in movies they say, "It's quiet." "Yeah, too quiet." and that's when the attack begins?

What they all mean is that there is danger in silence. Lately, my internal critic has been silent. Too silent.

Of course, I haven't done any real writing in weeks, either. I tell myself I'm doing research for my next WiP, or that the minor editing I'm doing before sharing the next chunk of work with my crit group is writing. But today I realized that my internal critic has just found a new way to distract me from writing. And since writing is my Patented Pending All Time Magical Cure for Depression and Other Troubles, not writing for weeks is Very Bad.

So, I printed out my 400+ page book, and I've scheduled this weekend (a three day weekend for me) for editing. I'm setting up a schedule and goals, which is very different from the kind of floating with no time table that I've been doing.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Conversations with Family

You remember my son Michael, right? Extremely intelligent 16 year old, that has a summer intern job working with electron microscopes? Yes, that's the one.

So, my husband wanted to wash the car. We went to one of those drive through places and he took his radio antenna off and put it in the back seat. Michael picks up the antenna and "knights" me with it. Plays around a little more, and then we hear:

Michael: Ow! Ow! The antenna is stuck in my hair!
Us: You put the antenna in your hair?
Michael: Yes! Ow, ow!
Us: (laughing)

Michael gets the antenna out of his hair (at the cost of a few strands) and all is quiet. For about 30 seconds. Then I hear:

Michael (thoughtfully): I wonder what would happen if I stuck this end in here...

And that my friends, is the difference between intelligence and wisdom :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Faeish idioms

For my Troll Wife story, I dug through old and lesser known Grimm's tales for some hints of expressions that faeish might use. In my world building, I've already established that many fairy tales are faeish in origin, and usually have references to the war between humans and faeish. This made it a natural to go back to those old tales for Oubliette's expressions. I have some requirements:
1. It must be understandable, even if you don't know where the expression comes from. I don't want to have to explain them to someone, so that the reader will know what they mean. That kind of exposition bugs the heck out of me.
2. I may create a lot of them, but I can't use too many in the book, or it will come off badly.
3. Oubliette is a very angry monster. She probably won't be using funny and lighthearted expressions, only the depressing ones.

So, here's the list I've gotten so far (will be expanded):
1. "When the dry twig sprouts green", as in "You can have that when the dry twig sprouts green" It means "never" or "highly unlikely".
2. "The mercy of a mill stone", as in "Oubliette has the mercy of a mill stone". It means "none". Mill stones were a human invention, and are seen as a metaphor for the way humans grind everything beneath them.
3. "The rabbit that cries for the moon", as in "No, you can't have that. Don't be the rabbit that cries for the moon." "Rabbit" is a term that faeish use for their children, and the expression means someone wanting something they can't have, either a child, or someone that is acting like a child.
4. "A hedgehog bride", as in "That couple is well matched, she is a hedgehog bride". It means not to love/marry someone that is much prettier or uglier, dumber/smarter, etc., than you are. "Box your weight" is a human expression for the same kind of thing. (This one may be too obscure. I may not use it.)
5. "His name is carved in stone", as in "I will not rest until his name is carved in stone". It means dead, of course, and refers to the custom of carving names in a gravestone. It sounds like something I might read in a Western, so I think this one needs work.

Now I need to think of more situations that call for these. Like I said, even if I don't use them in the book, they're awfully fun to create :)


Thursday, July 15, 2010

32 Rules of Writing

I found this link to 32 Rules of Writing. You may not agree with everything on this list, but I think there's something for everyone :)


Cat Waxing

Here are a few exercises I ganked from Paperback Writer a while back.

1. Write a classified ad selling your novel.

Urban fantasy with a twist:
Heroic trolls, elvish bad guys, scent driven insights.
Theme of wanting to belong, mixed with horror and humor.
100,000 words or best offer.

2. Make up a motto based on your novel theme.

Keep your scent.

3. Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

A troll with a nose for magic finds trouble when she becomes...a tooth fairy. (Wow! 15 exactly!)

4. Write a personal ad for your hero or heroine.

SCTW(Single Cafe Troll Wife) Seeks companionship leading to something more.
Likes: libraries, ancient mysteries and knot language.
Dislikes: stalker monsters, elves, marshmallow scented faeish.
Compatible scent a must. Name not required.

Kind of fun, but they need more work.

Author or Book trading cards

I had a (possibly) brilliant marketing idea. Instead of the traditional bookmarks or postcards that authors create to market their books, how about author trading cards? Or book trading cards? Or character trading cards?

The character trading cards could reveal little things about a character that were part of world building, but never show up in the book. (Downside, argh! The character art!)
Book trading cards could use the cover art from the book.
Author trading cards could list the biography of the author, as well as publication history. This would (hopefully) change over time, so your first publication would be your "rookie" card. They could either use a picture of the author, or (for the camera shy) cover art from the latest book.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

10 Things you may not know about me

10. I have prosopagnosia (face blindness).
9. I'm 6'3". On occasion I have accidentally scared people with my height.
8. I'm incredibly shy. "Painfully shy" isn't just an expression. I have no trouble speaking in front of large groups.
7. I cry at Flintstone's vitamin commercials.
6. My purse is purple. My phone is purple. Most of my shirts are purple. My favorite color is-green.
5. I can only start reading a new book when I don't have work the next day.
4. I read "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in one day (see number 5).
3. I've been a professional tarot card reader.
2. I started writing about Troll Wife because of the perfume "Byzance by Rochas".
1. I was almost (and accidentally) a bigamist.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Today was a good day

I got an award from Piedmont Writer for having less than 50 followers. (Just kidding!) Thank you! It's a beautiful award. It's actually for being new. (But if it were for having less than 50 followers, I think I'll qualify for a long time.)

I also won a random drawing for a five page critique from Jodi Meadows She's got a book deal! She wrote a book, found an agent and got a book deal in about nine months. That's got to be some sort of speed record, right?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday Conversations with Family

We'd just finished buying pet supplies and I closed the trunk, while my husband and son got in the car. The trunk popped open again, and I closed it. It happened again. And again. Finally it stopped popping open and I got in the car.

My husband said, "I'm sorry, the release button got stuck and it just kept popping the trunk."
Me: "I thought you were messing with me."
Him: "No, I value my testicles too much."
Son (finally noticing one word in the conversation): "What are you saying about testicles?"

Later, after teasing my husband about various things:

Him: "You know what? I was messing with you. Retroactively."
Me: "I hope you enjoyed your testicles while you had them."
Him: "I'm sleeping in chain mail speedos."
Son: "That would chafe."

Yes, we have conversations like this all the time. (Ok, maybe not about testicles.)

My son loves his new job, even if he is working near Uranium 238 (which he assures me is the bad kind, to which I think, "There's a good kind?"). He says his big problem is that one of the guys he's working with isn't psychic. Evidently having conversations with me has spoiled my son for having conversations in the real world :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fan Girl

I am a total fan girl of Seanan McGuire. (Click here to read her periodic introduction post.) Even in the years when I stopped blogging/LJing and wasn't doing much on the internet (I was depressed, but didn't know it), I still had her LJ as my start up page.

I own her three CD's and will pre-order the fourth as soon is she puts it up for pre-order (which should be soon). She's recently become a published author and has come out with three books this year. (Let me just stop for a minute an reflect on that. Three books. This year.) Two of them (the October Daye novels) are under her name, and the third (the first of the Feed novels) is under the name Mira Grant. (I'm assuming it's because they're different genres, and to avoid giving people zombie stories when they really wanted urban fantasy.) She's under contract for three more October Daye novels and two more Feed novels.

So, yeah, I'm as impressed as all heck by her talent and productivity, but what I really love, and fell in love with back before she'd made any cds or published any books, is her voice. She's funny and she cares about everything. Plus, anyone that loves a good plague has got to be great, right?

And I don't hold it against her, not one little bit, that she's writing a book about cryptozoologists that is going to be really amazing. Nope, don't hold it against her at all. (Kicks my unnamed cryptozoology piece into the corner and whistles quietly.)